“jonrev” is a self-taught photographer who has been committing crimes of knowledge and sneaking into places your mom told you not to go for nearly a decade. His art and research are published as the [jonrevProjects]; abbreviated: JRP.
Based somewhere between Chicago and Milwaukee: much of his work was sparked by the decline and eventual demolition of Lakehurst Mall in 2004. The documentation and research of which led him to the infamous Dixie Square Mall (of ‘The Blues Brothers’-fame), and the rest is history. Exploring, researching and penning the final chapter in the history of many great buildings has since become his signature work. His compulsive disregard for trespassing laws intend to advocate for historic preservation, challenge the viewer’s moral balance between curiosity and property boundaries, and question what was, what could be – and in many unfortunate cases, what could have been.
After years of using Flickr as means of presentation: this blog – a dumping ground for my demented history lessons and other irreverent nonsense – was launched in late 2014 and serves-up a regular dose of abandoned buildings, weird local history, relics salvaged from the aforementioned, commentary on the disgusting state of “urbex culture”, and graffiti/street art documentation. Side-effects include ramblings about retail history, motoring, amusement park travels, instant film exploits and whatever I otherwise see fit.
In other words: I don’t write clickbait.
Print inquiries or general questions/comments: please use the website’s Contact form. All prints are produced on a 1/1 basis, assembled, and sold first-hand directly by the artist.
All content on this site is copyright JRP unless otherwise noted.
Because I can.
Because it’s cheap.
Because it’s educational.
Because it’s fun, dammit.
Is this legal?
Short version: no.
-Don’t try this if you don’t use your brain. Seriously, the risk usually isn’t worth that lame #selfie.
-Use a real flashlight, not your phone with 12% battery.
-Bring spare batteries.
-Bring more spare batteries.
-If the air quality sucks, get a mask or don’t breathe it.
-Asbestos… it’s usually grey and very fibrous. Don’t disturb it and you’ll be fine.
-Don’t wear your three year-old shredded Vans or Converse, rusty nails and stuff have quite the kink for those. Boots, steel-toe, steel shank if you can… don’t get cheap Kmart crap.
-Camera’s optional, but bring it if that’s your thing.
-Don’t bring anything that screams “burglary tools”; see below regarding entry…
-Don’t be a dick.
-Don’t get caught.
–DON’T DOOM THE SPOT!
No, asshole – I meant tips for locations.
Sure, try 1060 W. Addison.
Fine, but at least how do you find them?
They’re everywhere, man – just have to look while going about your day, or spend some time farting around on Google Maps. Ride commuter rail, you’ll often find industrial sites along the tracks. Networking with other reprobates does help; but all the smart ones are tight-lipped around new people. It’s (probably) not that they hate you – but the reason we’ll send you to Wrigley Field if you ask for handouts is because too often the right info was given to the wrong idiot who got the place sealed or torn down. This is a hobby based 110% on smarts and trust, which is earned over time and experience – not by Instasham DM’s.
How do you get in?
Find a way. Do not break-and-enter (B&E is a felony and a whole different can of worms from a trespassing ticket), but in many cases: if a place has been abandoned long enough, chances are someone’s already made an entry point. If it’s not obvious, there are other telltale signs that suggest a spot’s doable… but I keep those secret. Get creative, if nothing else.
What happened to “take only pictures, leave only footprints”, you fuckin thief??
“Help, police… someone’s stealing garbage.” Our society becoming so overly-wasteful is what happened. There’s no reason something historic, useful or just plain cool should – in the name of some dipshit self-righteous bylaws – be left for ultimate destruction or dumped in a landfill when a historical society (or I) may have a use for it. If I shoots, I loots.
What do you shoot with? Can you help me take better pictures?
Digital: your run of the mill, entry-level DSLR. Model is irrelevant, they all do the same basic thing. Buy whatever you like, RTFM, leave it in MANUAL, play with your ISO, shutter and aperture, learn from your first 5,000 pictures. They will suck, and if you keep at it you will get better. Good composition is key. Invest in a tripod for low light. Don’t cheap-out on one, either… Manfrotto or equivalent. Remotes or cable releases are really nice to have, too. I never use flash except for studio work (a crude setup of firing a speedlight on the camera set to a long exposure, then manually triggering a number of vintage camera flashes to finish off the shadows… if it’s stupid but it works, then it isn’t stupid) so I can’t really help you, there.
As for processing software: whatever you feel works. I personally use an ancient version of Photoshop Elements because it’s no-frills. Abandoned work calls for mucho bracketing and blending (HDR) due to the drastic lighting contrasts. For this, I use a free program called Picturenaut to make the composite, then finish off the final contrast and color adjustments in Elements. Oh yeah, and please don’t overdo the post-processing… there’s absolutely no reason a spooky abandoned church has to look like a pile of clown vomit.
Film: exclusively old-school, American-made Polaroid Land Cameras… that’s right, instant film. Not that plastic, full-retard auto flash/auto exposure Instax crap, either. Integral stuff (the stuff you watch develop in your hand) is usually shot on readily-available Impossible Project stock with a folding SX-70 or SLR-680 SE. Yeah it’s expensive, but think before you shoot. Packfilm (older, peel-apart type) is usually shot with a Polaroid 195 rig on Fuji FP-100C for color, or FP-3000B for B/W… sadly, neither of which are in production, anymore. The 195 is metered with a Gossen LunaPro SBC and I highly recommend that particular meter because it beats the piss out of any app, and 9v batteries are cheap.
On rare occasion, I dick around with 35mm and other formats. Getting it processed locally, however, is almost impossible these days, and largely why I stick to instant.
What’s with the Max Headroom mask?
Can I have your babies?
That depends. Applications will be assessed on an individual basis.
I’m a model; will you take me to, and shoot me in those places?
Will you shoot my wedding?
Will you shoot my car/building for sale/cat(s)/anything not involving people?
I’m an editor for CNNowBuzzViceNet.com and we’re doing a story/slideshow on [subject], may we use your work for free so that we can make bank off the ad revenue? We’ll give you credit… tasty, tasty credit…
Surely you’ve got the internet and a modern cell phone or some kind of digital camera; why don’t you research the history of and how to get to a spot, get yourself to said spot that may or may not be in a hostile location, get yourself through said location alive and not-arrested, learn to take and process your own pictures that meet certain quality standards, pay the bill every year to keep your own blog running, then write your own damn narratives that hopefully entertain and educate your audience. Get fucked, you vultures.
I’m writing for a nonprofit/zine/small blog/school presentation on [subject], may I use your work for one of the aforementioned?
Probably – hit me up on the Contact page and let’s work something out.
Are you cool irl?
jonrev has his reasons to thank and/or credit the following individuals and groups:
Richard Nickel; Robert Ballard; Deadmalls.com; Chuck Janda; Paul McVay; Michael Brown; Nicole Yugovich; Andrew Turnbull; Eric Fleck; Dave Aldrich; Brian Ulrich; Ben Schmitt; Zach Lewis; Jerome Tomlinson; Gerald Cook, Bob Pataky & the Mis-Shifts Car Club; David Motley, William Gardner, Artspace, Inc., Evelyn Larsen-Ford, Eric Marston, Austin Cantu and the rest of the city of Waukegan; the Waukegan Historical Society; Gina Schaefer; Charlotte Renehan; the LTV Squad (whom much of this website was patterned after), and everyone who trusted my work wouldn’t suck.